2012-08-09 / Front Page / Breaking News

Farmingdale mayor defends himself as additional council members resign

By James McEvoy

FARMINGDALE – One week after borough officials began filling three council seats that were left vacant by a series of resignations, the three remaining Farmingdale Borough Council members have submitted letters of resignation.

Council President Kathryne E. Baghsarian and council members Karen L. Corallo and Erich Schneider have submitted letters of resignation. All three are Republicans.

These resignations come after Councilwoman Kathleen M. Farrington, a Democrat, resigned effective July 17 due to personal reasons, and Republican councilmen William E. Donovan and Anthony J. Infante submitted their own resignations, both citing ongoing conflicts with Republican Mayor John P. Morgan.

Currently Richard Gessken, who was appointed to fill the vacancy left Farrington, is the council’s lone member.

Infante and Baghsarian’s terms are set to expire on Dec. 31. Both were seeking re-election.

A council meeting that had been scheduled for Aug. 7 was cancelled.

In addition to the council resignations, Donna Phelps, the municipal clerk, and Stephen Roe, the code enforcement officer, also tendered their resignations effective last week.

Roe declined to comment on his resignation.

Phelps, Baghsarian, Corallo and Schneider did not return calls requesting comment at press time.

Borough Attorney John O. Bennett previously told Greater Media Newspapers that the chairman of the municipal Republican Party, who Bennett identified as Morgan, has 15 days to name potential replacements for the departed council members.

Typically, upon receiving the names, the council has an additional 15 days to take formal action.

Morgan told Greater Media Newspapers that Bennett has contacted the New Jersey Division of Local Government Services seeking direction on how to address the remaining council vacancies, considering the fact that there is now only one sitting council member.

“I believe, according to statue, we have to, which we did, send a letter to the governor’s office explaining that the council seats are vacated,” Morgan said.

He also defended himself and said communication issues were due to council members going to Phelps in lieu of reaching out to him.

“If they came to me, I would converse with them, but they didn’t, so unfortunately they are telling you they had difficulty communicating with me because of that reason,” the mayor said. “It’s unfortunate that because the borough clerk had resigned, the council would follow; I thought they were leaders, obviously they are followers. If they had the town’s best interest at heart they would have done it differently. It’s unfortunate for the town.”

According to the borough’s Internet website, Infante and Donovan were appointed in 2008 to fill unexpired terms on the council.

Infante was elected to a three-year term in November 2009. Donovan was elected to a full term in 2011. Farrington was also elected to a full term in 2011.

Baghsarian was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2009. A few months after her re-election, she was chosen by her colleagues to serve as council president, a position she was reappointed to in 2011.

Schneider was elected to the council in 2007 and re-elected in 2010, while Corallo was appointed in May  2011 to fill an unexpired council term.

Following the resignation of Phelps, deputy clerk Kim Farrington is currently performing the duties of the municipal clerk.

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